l-r: Pete Quaife, Original Kinks Bassist, Ray & Dave, Mick Avory
“Premier. the audiophile pressing is shocking. pure warm loud lo-fi sound – zero vinyl surface detection. no turntable rumble, not one tick or pop, no static cling even. absolutely total quiet. and especially in the more silent passages. kinda hard to believe. it’s magic….don’t think it’s EVER sounded this good. A+++”
We love this record + luckily Sundazed got us a free LP to give away to a Rising Storm reader, SIGNED by R. Stevie himself.
To enter for a chance to win, just leave a comment below (with a working email address). While you’re at it, tell us what’s your favorite cult classic, lo-fi, d.i.y, home-taped artist, album, song or anything (besides Stevie of course).
During the early ’60s folk revival, The Kentucky Colonels were the hottest pickers around, for a minute. Led by brothers Roland White and Clarence White, in 1964 and ’65 they released their knockout instrumental record, Appalachian Swing!, and recorded some astonishing live performances, largely showcasing Clarence’s cutting-edge crosspicking and Roland’s speedy work on the mandolin. By 1965, Clarence was moving on to electric sessions, later joining Nasvhille West and The Byrds and Roland would soon join Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, followed by Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass.
On this 1976 release (three years after Clarence’s tragic death) Roland doesn’t quite abuse his mando like he did in the Colonel days, but instead turns out a wonderfully laid back collection of old-timers and gems from a well-steeped knowledge of bluegrass history. Alan Munde, Kenny Wertz, Roger Bush, and Dave Ferguson join Roland on a deeply traditional set, but one that digs up some of the lesser known tunes by Monroe (“Can’t You Hear Me Calling”), the Carter Family (“The Storms Are On The Ocean”), and Lester Flatt, whose “Head Over Heels In Love With You” appears on a White record for the first time since the brothers released their very first single, back when they were The Country Boys.
“Powder Creek” is the one original, an instrumental fiddle-tune written by Clarence and Roland in 1963 (on the Jersey Turnpike!), and recorded for the first time here. One of my favorite cuts is the previously unreleased bonus track, a smooth take on “She’s Her Own Special Baby” by songwriter, John Hadley (who also contributes “Doorstep of Trouble” and another fine one, “Same Old Blues Again”). Roland gives the standards one clean swoop in his eight-minute “Marathon,” a medley coasting through classics like “Love Please Come Home,” “Nine Pound Hammer,” “and “Shackles and Chains.”
What this album may be missing in ‘hot licks,’ it makes up for tenfold in charm. Released for the first time on CD from Tompkins Square, this has been spinning back to front in my old ride on these early summer days; a relaxed, endearing effort from a legend in his own right. The perfect kickoff to bluegrass season. Time to get pickin.
“She Is Her Own Special Baby”
I’ve been dusting off some of the mp3s we’ve posted here since Feb ’07 and came up with this “Best of the Rising Storm” collection. Tracks with a decided country/blues slant. Thanks for listening!
edit: Grab this as a mixtape at Aquarium Drunkard.
1. Intro: Grape FX
2. “Where I Lead Me” by Townes Van Zandt (1971)
3. “When I’m Dead and Gone” by McGuinness Flint (1970)
4. “Wait Til The Summer Comes Along” by The Kinks (1965)
6. excerpt: “Wild Ox Moan” by Taj Mahal (1969)
7. “Farther on Down the Road (You Will Accompany Me)” by Taj Mahal (1969)
8. “God Out West” by Link Wray (1971)
9. “Bat Macumba” by Os Mutantes (1968-)
10. “Bright Lit Blue Skies” by The Rising Storm (1966)
11. “Passing By” by The Beach Boys (1968-)
12. “Everything’s Gonna be Everything” by Don Covay (1966)
13. “Captain Jesus” by Bob Martin (1972)
14. “Her Good Loving Grace” by Jerry Jeff Walker (1972)
15. “Blues Stay Away From Me” by Doug Sahm and Band (1973)
Tom Waits is one of the many legendary artists we have neglected to feature on these pages. His works seem to transcend time, seamlessly linking sound and style from decade to decade. But, for whatever reason, I only have a couple of his records.
So, calling all TW fiends: what’s overrated, underrated, and essential in the Tom Waits Discography?
Three teenage sisters from New Hampshire, Dot, Betty, and Helen Wiggin, were pushed by their father to form a band and in 1969 they recorded the ultimate outsider album, Philosophy of the World. Both Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain have cited it as a fave.
Immediately it sounds unlistenable, but soon it’s hard to stop – like rubbernecking at a car wreck. The Shaggs’ approach comes from way beyond, seemingly informed by nothing. Their music is profoundly unique, sincere, and captivating.
The “problem” with the music is the drums are plainly out of sync with the guitar and vocal. But you can’t blame the drummer, Helen, whose oft-recycled, go-to drum fill hits the spot every time. Dot Wiggin’s guitar and lead vocal melodies have a natural lean to complex and disorganized time signatures; I’d bet even the best free jazz drummers couldn’t keep up. Ultimately what emerges in my mind is a picture of sibling rivalry: Dot wants Helen to follow her rambling leads, and Helen just wants her sisters to come back to the planet and adhere to some semblance of a 4/4 beat.
The songwriting is strange, but at times poignant, as in “Why Do I Feel” (listen as Betty the rhythm guitarist and Helen the drummer finally sneak in a few bars of beat-matched tempo during the intro) and “Who Are Parents?” a heartbreaking, beautiful mess of a song. “My Pal Foot Foot” is a bizarre piece, presumably about the family dog. “I’m So Happy When You’re Near” comes to a lyrical crescendo when they loudly proclaim “sometimes I think we are completely insane!”
Philosophy of the World is raw, abrasive, and weird, but absolutely must-hear. Especially recommended in small doses.
“Who Are Parents”
Something tells me, if I had been at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom in June of ’67 to witness Moby Grape at the height of their powers, scorching through their set of two-minute pop blasts, blaring triple-guitar action and five-part harmonies soaring, I might not have survived the night. None was the match of the mighty Grape in those days; the band was “flying musically” and easily the toughest act around. Moby Grape Live is the first official release to afford a glimpse into the raucous and entrancing stage performances of one of the most exciting, original, and underappreciated bands of the ’60s.
Separated into four sides, this double LP takes us to performances from the same weeks their infamously overhyped masterpiece Moby Grape was released, to their few high-octane minutes at the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival, jumping forward to a 1969 performance in Amsterdam featuring cuts from Wow and ’69, and ending back at the start: a full side of “Dark Magic,” recorded New Years Eve, 1966. This one’s worth the purchase for Side 1 alone. The rabid energy of the band, issuing rapid-fire gems like “Rounder” and “Looper,” hits a high point in “Changes” into “Indifference” featuring Jerry Miller’s careening lead guitar. Skip Spence turns in a beautifully honest vocal to cap the blistering set with “Someday.” The highlight for me, however, are the post-Skip tracks from 1969 on Side 3. “Murder in my Heart for the Judge” shows the band at their loosest, the slack and soul of the rootsier Grape a refreshing contrast. “I am Not Willing,” one of their best songs, gets a grooving drawn out treatment and it’s interesting to hear a matured group attack earlier hits “Fall on You” and “Omaha.” The closing 17-minute raga, “Dark Magic,” is more than a piece of rock music history, an actually listenable and fascinating performance, it features inspiring guitar leads, primitive electronic squeals, Skip’s far out vocal, and the driving force of sound that made Moby Grape one of the hottest band of the era.
Sundazed has curated an important document here. Hardcore Grape addicts should note much of this material has been featured on bootlegs over the years (notably the tracks from Monterey Pop and “Dark Magic”) but none of this has ever been officially released, and never with such pristine sound quality. David Fricke’s notes are the icing on the cake. After the essential debut record, this is the Moby Grape record I would recommend next.
“Murder in My Heart for the Judge” (1969, Amsterdam)
Here’s another one for the wish-this-wasn’t-it list. Eggs Over Easy were virtually unknown but recorded an incredibly solid album and have a cool story to boot.
Credited with launching the genre of pub rock, these hard working American road warriors brought the sound of Americana/country rock to the pubs in England during an ill-fated recording trip, and ended up gigging around until their visas ran up, inspiring the likes of Brinsley Schwarz, Bees Make Honey, and Frankie Miller. They had amassed an impressive repertoire of original and cover material upon their return to the states, and recorded Good ‘N’ Cheap out in Tuscon, AZ with Link Wray producing. Sadly, it’s about all they recorded.
You can tell the Eggs were seasoned performers the instant their record hits. These fun, good-natured country tunes have a smooth, Steely Dan vibe, sounding at times squeaky clean, loose & tight, honest and raw. All but one are originals, with writing and singing duties equally distributed between members Austin Delone, Jack O’Hara, and Brien Hopkins. The songs are surprisingly versatile: “Party, Party” is a pure sweet ’70s treat, just what the title says, “Arkansas” is a gorgeous, foot-tapping roots ballad, “Runnin’ Down to Memphis” is straight country, and a couple harder blues numbers round things out (though “The Factory” is my one skippable track and I’m not too big on “Night Flight” despite its Bowie-tinged flavor). I originally thought the record was a little top-heavy, considering how the first three tracks seem to climax during the anthemic chorus to “Henry Morgan,” but Good ‘N’ Cheap is loaded with gems. These are pretty advanced compositions for a bar band, “Home To You” and the nearly epic “Pistol On A Shelf” are unmissable tracks. Same with “Face Down In The Meadow” and “Don’t Let Nobody,” which feel like instant classics.
It’s the kind of record where you savor the bonus cuts. “111 Avenue C” gives us a taste of the live Eggs act, featuring some intense scatting at the back of this swinging blues number. Also included is the infamous “Bar In My Car” (“put a bar in the back of my car and drive my self to drink”) and is actually one of the band’s catchiest moments.
There is reportedly a 2nd album out there, recorded in 1982 called Fear of Frying. I have yet to track it down but based on this debut, it’s a joke it hasn’t been properly reissued. In any case, Good ‘N’ Cheap is no doubt essential to any fan of Americana and pub rock. Sincere, sweet, feel-good music.
Original Vinyl | 1972 | A&M | search ebay ]
After too many years over-exposure to the words “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…” I thought I would never make it all the way through another version of “Joy to the World.” Hoyt Axton’s original delivers the goods though, and much more to dig on this 1971 gem, his most celebrated and “hits” filled record.
In quotations since none of the “hits” were from his own version. Before any research, it sounds like a collection of covers, but I was surprised to learn he actually wrote “Joy to the World,” “Never Been to Spain” (both as made famous by 3 Dog), and “The Pusher” (Steppenwolf). Clearly a talented songwriter but a damn fine performer at that, seeing as how his originals endure better today than their played-out cover versions. These productions are raw, but layered and textured, a bit twangy and sometimes pumped up with an overdriven gospel chorus. It’s a kind of sound that could even sound good on blown out speakers.
Axton’s vocal varies track to track: sometimes it’s a little unconvincing, like on the swampy “California Women” (great work with the blues harp on this one), but a couple lines in he’ll hook you back. The payoff is in the growl and squonk when his voice is most worn.
This record’s worth it for some key moments. The panning moog (or distorted bass guitar, sax? can anybody call it?) on “Alice in Wonderland’s” addicting chorus. The first verse of “Lightnin’ Bar Blues” (another song so good I can’t believe it’s original) before the bar fight sound effects nearly ruin the track. And “Have a Nice Day,” now that’s my kind of tune, it’s like the content of a R. Davies track with some J. Sebastian feel.
Get this any way you can find it, but the Raven CD reissue comes as a 2fer with his previous recording, Country Anthem, another great one.
“Alice in Wonderland”